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At just 200 kilometres by 60 kilometres, the Black Forest isn’t a particularly huge area, especially when compared to Yosemite or Algonquin national parks, but the diversity of the landscape – mountains, valleys, lakes – and its sheer beauty have made it a draw for tourists for nearly two centuries. As a holiday destination, the Black Forest is extremely family friendly. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
The Black Forest is where the adventure holiday was invented. Seriously. It’s here that 19th century Germans came up with the idea that hiking for pleasure was good for mind, body, and spirit. Before that, people walked because they wanted to go somewhere.
In winter, there are 250 kilometres of downhill slopes and 1,700 kilometres of cross-country trails. And in summer, mountain bikers of various levels of ability wend their way along 8,000 kilometres of trails.
Adventurous children might like the 2.9-kilometre Hasenhorn Coaster, which is a go-kart that flies down the hill on a closed, looping track, or the Action Forest Kletterwald near the Titisee.
Pretty well all places in the Black Forest will have special activities that are geared towards families. Except maybe the cuckoo clock workshops.
You can choose to stay in one of the main cities in the area, like Baden-Baden, Offenburg, or the adorable Freiburg, and drive or catch the train in to various day activities. You can choose an adventure resort that offers everything all in, or you can rent your own Ferienhaus or Ferienwohnung (holiday house or apartment) and spend your Black Forest holiday as deeply ensconced in the woods as you like. All will be in some way or other child-friendly.
The Black Forest is an extremely popular holiday destination for Germans as well as tourists. The obvious advice about not going in July or August applies, but also take a look at when German school holidays are before you book.
The best major international airport is Frankfurt, followed by Munich, and unless you are staying at an all-inclusive resort, a car is required. There is a train service in the Black Forest, but it is irregular and, with children in tow, being able to leave when you need to leave is worth the price of a rental. Most of the roads in the forest are narrow and windy and can get congested at peak holiday times and summer weekends. The best plan is to have not much of a plan at all.